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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

First Glimpse of Poverty Bay

First Glimpse of Poverty Bay

The opening to Poverty Bay is mentioned for the first time in the 5 p.m. entries for 8 October in Cook's Journal and in the Canberra logbook. Land was now only from two to three leagues distant. As seen by Parkinson, it was of considerable extent, with many small islands around it, and rising hills like those on the coast of Portugal. “We saw smoke ascend from different parts,” he adds, “and thence concluded that it was inhabited.”

During the night of 8 October, the Endeavour was also forced to ply off and on. Daybreak on 9 October again found her to leeward (south) of Poverty Bay. The point which was named “Young Nick's Head” is now specifically referred to for the first time. It is described in the 8 a.m. entry in the Canberra logbook as “a bluff head at the southward of the bay.” Banks, at that hour, describes the land as “very near us and makes into many white cliffs like chalk.”

The swivel guns were now brought up from the hold and fixed. At noon, the first attempt was made to round Young Nick's Head, but the Endeavour was driven away to the north. Cook, at this stage, says: “We saw in the Bay several Canoes, People upon the Shore, and some houses in the Country. The land on the Sea Coast is high with Steep Cliffs and back Inland are very high Mountains. The face of the Country is of a hilly surface and appears to be cloathed with Verdure.”

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Cook makes only bare mention of the return of the Endeavour, and of sailing her into Poverty Bay. In the Canberra logbook, it is stated that, as the vessel approached the entrance, several houses, large canoes and some people were seen. Shortly afterwards, the canoes returned to the place from which they had come, “not appearing to take the slightest notice of us.” Parkinson, referring to the houses, says that they seemed to be thatched, and that the eaves went down to the ground. Close to one of them, a good many people had assembled. “They sat down on the beach,” he adds, “seemingly observing us.” Some details noted by Banks also make interesting reading:

“On a small peninsula at the north-east head [Tuamotu Island, but called by Parkinson ‘Morai Island’] we could,” he says, “plainly see a Regular Paling pretty high inclosing the Top of a hill [a pa named Uruhangenge]. For what purpose it is used many conjectures were made. Most are of the opinion, or say at least, it must, or shall be, either a park for Deer or a field of Oxen and Sheep.”

Exactly how far the Endeavour was anchored off the mouth of the Turanganui River is uncertain. Cook gives the distance as half a league; Banks, as two miles; Parkinson, as from two to three miles; and the Canberra logbook, as one mile. The anchorage was probably between a mile and a mile and a half away. Cook fixes it by stating that the N.E. point of the bay bore E. by S. ½ S. and the S.W. point S. The vessel was drawing 13 ft. 7 in. both fore and aft.